Thanks in large part to the popularity of entertainment subscription platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and CraveTV, there have never been more movies available to us at the click of a mouse or the press of a button.
Yet, as a self-proclaimed movie buff, it still amazes me as to how many people I regularly talk to that have spent a substantial portion of their precious time binge watching a reality series on pregnant teens, but are yet to see infamous films like Titanic, 2001: A Space Odyssey, or The Shawshank Redemption.
But rather than focusing on some of the greatest movies of all-time, I’d like to instead draw our attention to 7 must-see movies that not only entertain, but also pack the proverbial punch of a powerful conscious message. Here they are in no particular order:
1. Big Fish
Big Fish is a Tim Burton film based on the novel of the same title written by author Daniel Wallace. The story blurs fact and fiction as it weaves through tales from the life of a dying old man. The man’s son, now a grown man himself, returns to his childhood home to see his ailing father, however, the two are not on good terms. As the film moves forward, everyone has to face different aspects of the truth to discover what they really are, and the viewers are left wondering which was more amazing, the fantasy or the truth.
Conscious food for thought: Thanks in large part to the incredible creative power of our imagination, we all in some respect regularly decipher between fantasy and reality. While our fantasies may not be nearly as elaborate as they are visually depicted in Big Fish, they can be quite convincing at leading us towards a state of unhappiness with our actual life. In my opinion, this film offers great social commentary on this very real dilemma.
2. The Matrix
The Matrix is regarded by many as one of the best science fiction films of all-time, and rightly so. At the time of its release, the movie’s action and special effects were far ahead of everything else, and I mean come on–who doesn’t like cool sunglasses, leather, guns, and rebellion? It was the perfect mixture for an amazing film, but this blockbuster is so much more than just a solid sci-fi/action flick. The Matrix explores a world in which humans live in an elaborately fabricated imprisonment system that appears to be the real world, but is actually nothing more than a simulation.
Conscious food for thought: The Matrix explores ideas on perspective, the self, the all, the limits we place upon ourselves, and what we must do in order to break free.
3. Finding Nemo
Yet another major blockbuster film, however this is one of the family-friendly variety. Finding Nemo is the animated classic that follows the tale of Marlin, a clown fish who has lost his only son and will stop at nothing to get him back.
Conscious food for thought: Along the way of his rescue mission Marlin meets some great friends and faces dangerous foes as he learns to stand up for what he believes in, trust in the process, and surrender to the flow -all of which we can benefit from reflecting on.
Interstellar explores some of the highly-debated issues of the not so distant future like overpopulation and climate change as they come to a head and force a team of astronauts to travel into space to find a new planet hospitable enough for their fellow earthlings to colonize.
Conscious food for thought: This film is much more than just a study in science fiction–it considers the emotional strain space travel puts on a family, the effects of isolation, and the beauty of synchronicity. Sometimes the signs seem to have been there all along, sometimes it’s just our higher selves trying to break through to save us.
Unbreakable tells the story of a man who is the lone survivor of a horrific train accident in Pennsylvania. The man’s survival catches the interest of an avid comic book collector who believes there is more to the man’s survival than luck; he also seems to think that the survivor is worth much more than his minimum wage security job. The comic book collector begins to probe the unconscious reasons behind what makes the survivor who he is, and he encourages the survivor to explore his powers and abilities.
Conscious food for thought: Unbreakable examines human nature, community, seclusion, and the greatness and responsibility that comes when we awaken the sleeping giants within ourselves.
6. Mr. Destiny
Mr. Destiny may seem quite out of place on this list, but the 1990 film starring Jim Belushi tells the story of a man who is given the opportunity to temporarily live out the alternate timeline in a reality where he instead succeeded at the one failure that has burdened him the most. Much like the old adage ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’ alludes to, the film effectively shows how our mind can make anything other than our current reality seem optimal.
Conscious food for thought: Mr. Destiny gives us a reminder to better appreciate our lives for what they are and to choose to live in the moment, rather than bog ourselves down in regret.
7. Fight Club
Quite possibly one of the most infamous movies of all-time, Fight Club tells the story of a depressed office worker and rebellious soapmaker who cross paths and collaborate to form an underground fight club.
Conscious food for thought: While the quick synopsis may not seem like it, Fight Club carries the potential to teach us a seemingly endless number of things. One of the largest takeaways however, revolves around humanity’s obsession with materialism, something that has not only continued, but has arguably strengthened since this film’s release in 1999. The film also raises thoughts about the personas that so many of us portray in our daily life and whether or not they are reflective of who we truly are. And if whether or not we can still recognize and tap into embodying our true self.
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